A ticketless parking system in Horsham has been labelled ‘a sham’ after motorists were stuck in lengthy queues - even when council staff are on hand to help.
The ‘SmartPark’ system at Piries Place Car Park has been plagued with problems since it was launched by Horsham District Council in March.
Last week the County Times featured two people from Horsham Bridge Club who were overcharged.
This week member Bryan Davies reported his wife’s experience on Tuesday (May 5)when a machine was out of order. He was also hit by overcharging three weeks ago.
He said: “She saw about 21 people queuing around noon time. The story amongst people waiting was that somebody had been sent for from Swan Walk and he was bringing a laptop so that people could tell him their registration number and he could say how much they had to pay. Why they can’t get it right it beyond me. It was a complete sham three weeks ago and it doesn’t seem to be sorted out.”
Also caught in Tuesday’s queues were Horsham district councillor David Holmes and Crawley borough councillor Geraint Thomas.
Dr Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) arrived at about 11am to see a long queue, but staff were on hand to help. That was not the case later on.
He said: “I’m appalled that the council know about this problem at 11.10 and yet had done nothing about it.
“I believe there are only two machines there. Quite clearly when one breaks down, it’s not sufficient. They have really got to do something. It’s just not good enough.”
Mr Thomas (Lab, Northgate), who sent in the picture above, said: “It took us the best part of an hour to get home partly because of that.
“What should take a couple of minutes takes a long time.’’
Horsham shopper John Bromley told of his exchange with one of HDC’s park attendants. He said: “It was only when I threatened to physically open the barriers myself, that he took out his mobile phone, phoned his superior and hey presto, the barriers were opened. If somebody does not resolve this problem, I fear that there will be a revolt by frustrated members of the public who are, in effect, being deprived of their liberty, held to ransom or perhaps even being treated as hostages for disproportionate and ridiculous lengths of time by HDC.’’
An HDC spokesman said: “The council regrets that it is currently experiencing difficulties with the payment machines in Piries Place car park.
“On Saturday, one of the two payment machines broke down which caused a delay.
“We supplied extra resources to help customers pay for their parking.
“Whilst we are pleased to report that the faulty machine has now been fixed, we are continuing to monitor the situation closely. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers.”